Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is likely to form an exploratory committee to run for president in 2012. ( Photo by Melina Mara/ The Washington Post)

"The size and enthusiasm of the crowds she has been attracting is very encouraging,” said Ed Brookover, a consultant to Bachmann. “The voters are telling her to keep pushing forward with her fight to stop this unparalleled growth of government.”

Bachmann is currently in Iowa, speaking to grassroots activists and state legislators. This morning she addressed the state Senate caucus and has secured the support of Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson.

“I'm not saying it's false," she said of the reports, adding: "It could be before then."

If Bachmann does form a committee, she would join former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, businessman Herman Cain and former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer in that exploratory phase.

Bachmann has made a national name for herself thanks in part to her outspoken — and unapologetic — conservatism. Of late, she’s also been logging serious time in early primary states. And, if former Alaska governor Sarah Palin stays out of the race, voters looking for a charismatic, aggressive conservative could well gravitate towards Bachmann.

Like Palin, Bachmann has not built up the infrastructure traditionally used to win over primary and caucus voters. Until now, she’s relied primarily on her own family as a campaign team.

"The only person she talks to as an insider is her husband, Marcus, who's a wonderful man, and her son Lucas," former Minnesota Republican Party Chair Ron Carey, who served as Bachmann's chief of staff last year, told the Star-Tribune. "That's really her brain trust."

Brookover is, however, a well known commodity in Republican political circles and there are some indications that Bachmann is building a campaign team that could help her navigate the difficult process of running for president. She also has a network of tea party activists across the country.

One thing that is not in question is Bachmann’s ability to raise money. She has proven herself to be one of the most dynamic fundraisers in the party and in the 2008 election alone, she collected a stunning $13.5 million for her reelection race in the suburban 6th district. One Bachmann adviser said the the money is indicative of the excitement Bachmann generates on the campaign trail; “It’s times five, times ten” of the other candidates in the field, the source insisted. “I think we will be able to raise all the money, if I should decide to go forward,” Bachmann said on Fox News Thursday.

It’s not yet clear whether Bachmann would abandon her House seat if she ran for president; if not, she could face a real race in a seat that clearly tilts toward Republicans but is by no means a lock for her in a presidential year.